Canadian trio advances to 2020 Drive, Chip and Putt championship
UNIVERSITY PLACE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 08: Anna Wu of Canada lines up a putt during the regional qualifier of the Drive, Chip and Putt Tournament at Chambers Bay on September 08, 2019 in University Place, Washington. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images for the DC&P Championship)
Three Canadian juniors will be among the 80 competitors in the sixth annual Drive, Chip and Putt championship at Augusta National on April 5, 2020.
In the Girls 7-9 division, Canada will be represented by the duo of Alexis Card (Cambridge, Ont.) and Anna Wu (Victoria, B.C.). Card punched her ticket to Augusta with a score of 107 at the Oakmont Country Club qualifier while Wu posted a total of 122 at Chambers Bay Golf Course.
The Canadians are rounded out by Cole Roberts of Oshawa, Ont., who qualified at TPC River Highlands with a score of 107.
OAKMONT, PA – SEPTEMBER 07: Alexis Card participates in the girls 7-9 putting competition during the regional round of the Drive, Putt, and Chip competition at Oakmont Country Club on September 7, 2019 in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.
Canada has seen three juniors take home titles at the Drive, Chip and Putt nationals in as many years. Savannah Grewal (Mississauga, Ont.) won in 2017, followed by Vanessa Borovilos (Toronto) in 2018 and Nicole Gal (Oakville, Ont.) in 2019.
Local qualifying for the seventh season began in May and was held at more than 300 sites throughout all 50 states this summer. The top-three scorers per venue, in each of the four age categories in separate boys’ and girls’ divisions, advanced to more than 60 sub-regional qualifiers in July and August.
The top two juniors in each age and gender division then competed at the regional level in September and October. Regional qualifying was held at 10 courses around the country, including several U.S. Open and PGA Championship venues.
Championship scoring at the local, subregional and regional qualifiers was based on a 25-point-per-shot basis, with each participant taking three shots per skill. Each participant accumulated points per shot in all three skills (maximum of 75 points per skill = 25 points per shot x 3). The overall winner in each age category was determined by the participant with the most points accumulated between all three skills (maximum of 225 points = 75 points per skill x 3).
Lavigne Has “Unforgettable Day” at Augusta National
by Dwayne Tingley
Carter Lavigne may never face this kind of pressure again and he handled it with grace beyond his years.
The nine-year-old from Moncton competed at the national Drive, Chip and Putt finals on Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club – meaning he played the same 18th green and share a clubhouse with the best players in the world.
“It was all kind of surreal,” said Carter’s father, Darsey. “He was in the same practice area as guys like Sergio Garcia, Fred Couples and Vijay Singh. The whole thing was amazing and so well organized, down the finest details. Just incredible.”
Carter admits the experience was unforgettable, but he was never overwhelmed.
“I had a lot of fun,” the Grade 4 student said. “I got to see a lot of very good players and I got to play at an amazing place. I was happy with the way everything went, but I could have played better.”
Carter, who plays out of the Moncton Golf and Country Club, qualified for the national event by winning or placing second at events last year in Maine, Massachusetts and New York.
More than 17,000 youngsters attempted to qualify and only the top 80 advanced to compete at Augusta. Carter qualified in the 7 to 9 year-old category, which featured nine other players.
Carter and Darsey arrived in Georgia four days before the competition to play some practice rounds.
On Sunday, Carter, his dad, his mother Melissa, two-year-old sister Lainey and five-month-old sister Everly were ceremoniously driven down fabled Magnolia Lane to the practice range, where the young New Brunswicker was working on his swing beside several pros.
Fifteen minutes later, the competition was on and it was being shown on the Golf Channel.
Carter topped his first drive before connecting for a solid 140-yard effort on his second and final rip.
Later, his chipping and putting worked out the same way. His first attempts were not up to his usual level, but he rebounded with a better showing in his second attempts.
“There was a lot pressure, with a lot of attention and big crowds everywhere,” Darsey said. “I don’t think he’ll every face that kind of situation again, no matter what he does in golf in the future.
“I know he realizes he could have done better, but I was proud of the way he handled it. He congratulated the other players and he was happy when they did well. It wasn’t his best day, but I was very proud of what he accomplished.”
Carter called it a learning experience, noting he never thought he could play in such a stressful situation, but he was pleased to find out differently.
“I’d like to try it again,” he said. “I’m going to try and qualify again so I can come back next year.”
Carter wound up finishing 10th, but Darsey reminded him of the difficult road he followed just to qualify.
Carter said he received lots of calls and messages of encouragement from golfers back home.
“We will never forget how much support we had in Moncton and all-over New Brunswick,” Darsey said. “We just want to tell everyone how much we appreciate their support. It made the whole experience even more special.”
Moncton Golf and Country Club Youngster Qualifies for Drive, Chip & Putt
Written by Dwayne Tingley
Moncton Golf and Country Club general manager Marc Robichaud was immediately impressed with Carter Lavigne.
Lavigne was just five years-old, but his golf knowledge and etiquette belied his youth and his skills also caught the eye of Robichaud, who is also the club’s director of golf.
“For such a young player, he handled himself well and he certainly knew his way around the course,” Robichaud said.
Four years later, Lavigne is still marking significant achievements and turning heads in the game he loves.
The Grade 4 student has qualified to compete in the Drive, Chip and Putt championships on April 7 at the venerable Augusta National Golf Club, the Sunday before the Masters Tournament.
More than 17,000 youngsters tried to earn their way to Augusta from 226 qualifying competitions, but only 80 players advanced to the finals. Lavigne is just one of four Canadians who will be competing and attending a banquet with the Masters participants. The event will be televised by The Golf Channel.
“I am really excited and proud that I was able to get this far,” Carter said. “I remember my first golf experience was when I was two and I played the mini-putt course at Crystal Palace. I was scared and I couldn’t play the hole with pirates on it.
“I knew back then that I really liked golf and I wanted to play all the time. I don’t do mini-putts, but I still want to play all the time.”
He also plays year-round, under the watchful eye of Robichaud. He has one formal training session on the Trackman simulators each week and usually pops into the Moncton Golf and Country Club a couple of other times for other practice sessions.
Carter, who was born in Bathurst, also plays competitive hockey and baseball, but golf remains his passion.
“I like it when I get to beat my dad (Darsey),” he said with a laugh.
“I know that I am young, but I want to be a golf pro someday. That’s my dream.”
Robichaud said Carter should enjoy the experience and not put too much pressure on himself.
“He’s still a kid and we should never forget that,” Robichaud said. “We want him to have fun – no matter how it goes. I’m sure he will do very well, but it has to be fun. That’s the main thing, especially at this age.”
Darsey said Carter has always kept the game in perspective.
“He’s always been a very good player and he’s always had a good time on the golf course,” Darsey said. “That’s where he always wants to be. He could play golf every day if it was possible,”
There were no qualifying events in the Maritimes so Carter’s first foray in the Drive, Putt and Chip competition came last June, when he topped of field of 18 players in Freeport. Me.
From there, he placed second at a competition near Boston before he won the Northeast event at Winged Foot in New York in order to qualify for Augusta.
Drive, Chip and Putt competitions week golfers take nine shots – three drives, three chips from 15 yards and three putts of different lengths. All nine shots count toward a final score.
“It’s going to be exciting and I’m never going to forget the experience,” the nine-year-old said. “I want to be a better player. Right now, I want to keep my mind on getting better. I think this experience will make me a better player.”